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from the actually existing order of things; and they "will do so with clear recognition that this view involves no conflict with scriptural statement, and is so far from containing in it any thing antagonistic to the fundamental conception of the supernatural origin of existence, that it harmonizes with it, even intensifying the demand upon a transcendent cause for the rational explanation of the admitted order of things.
Having thus indicated in definite form the favorable impression made on the public mind by the theory of evolution under a law of natural selection, it will suffice to indicate very briefly the more prominent difficulties with which the theory has grappled, but from which it has not escaped. In doing so, it should be said that the careful and deliberate manner in which Mr. Darwin has faced the host of difficulties which have gathered around is deserving of highest praise, as in harmony with the scientific spirit, and in marked contrast with the light-and-go-easy style in which others, such as Haeckel, and even Schmidt, pass over the ground, announcing things as undoubted facts, and even "self-evident" truths, of which no man can speak with any degree of certainty. On the other hand, it seems a reasonable ground of complaint against many opponents of the theory, which Mr. Darwin urges specially against Mr. St. George Mivart, that it is no part of their plan "to give the various facts and considerations opposed to their own conclusions," while marshalling the difficulties against an evolution theory. And yet it should be remembered that a great service is done to science in a period of transition, when difficulties are powerfully urged against a popular hypothesis, as an injury is done to science by precipitate and ill-considered arguments in support of such a hypothesis.
Of the most serious difficulties in the way of a theory of descent by evolution, the first concerns the nature of the evidence, inasmuch as all change coming under observation does not indicate progression or improvement in the organism. The importance of this may be best indicated by quoting Mr. Darwin's explanatory words as to alterations in the fifth edition of his book on species. He says, "In the earlier editions of my Origin of Species, I probably attributed too much to the action of natural selection or survival of the fittest. I have altered the fifth edition of the Origin so as to confine my remarks to adaptive changes of structure. I had not formerly sufficiently considered the existence of many structures, which appear to be, as far as we can judge, neither beneficial nor injurious, and this I believe to be one of the greatest oversights as yet detected in my work." When it is certain that deviation from the normal structure may take place which is a disadvantage to the individual, and that this may descend to offspring; when it is also shown that deviation may occur which appears to serve no end, that is, contributes to no phase of functional activity; when besides advantages gained are lost, and the race returns to its original type of structure; and when farther there are examples of degeneration, as in parasitic races,—such facts interpose special difficulties in the way of an all-embracing theory of progress by natural selection. Besides, as deviations occur of an unfavorable kind among domesticated animals under the care of man, it becomes obvious that progress may be readily lost even in most favorable circumstances.
The next outstanding difficulty is that of meeting the requirements of logical inference. This has been specially urged by Mr. Mivart as bearing upon the "incipient stages" of advance, and the difficulty certainly presses heavily at that point. Natural selection may account for much in the history of higher organisms where powers of sensibility and locomotion are great, but how can we find in natural selection an adequate explanation of progress in organisms within which these powers are at the lowest. The difficulty is to get a cause sufficient to account for the start of a movement so vast as that which is to culminate in man. Mr. Darwin feels the force of this difficulty, and replies thus, "as we have no facts to guide us, speculation on the subject is almost useless." * But this perplexity which is most glaring at the beginning of the upward course, clings to the theory at every stage in the combination of struggle and improvement,—descent involving a real ascent. Whether the organism be more or less complex, it depends upon external causes for its improvement, and the dependence continues at every stage. Granting that there is everywhere struggle for existence and survival of the fittest, are these sufficient to account for
results so great as are involved in unceasing advance of organism?
If it be argued that they are sufficient, a serious perplexity comes from the opposite quarter,—How does it happen that all organic existence does not advance together to a common elevation? If the theory accounts for advance, how shall we account for the want of it? The difficulties are as great for the theory in view of the large body of facts it does not attempt to include, as in the facts it strives to embrace. Agassiz put this difficulty with much force in 1857, and it has not received any satisfactory answer. He said, "It is a fact which seems to be entirely overlooked by those who assume an extensive influence of physical causes upon the very existence of organized beings, that the most diversified types of animals and plants are everywhere found under identical circumstances."* If, as Mr. Darwin says, "looking to the first dawn of life," we may believe that "all organic beings presented the simplest structure"; if the struggle for existence is uniformly en
• Contributions to the Natural History of the United States, Introduction, Boston, 1857; and Essay on Classification, p. 15, published separately; London, 1859. See Appendix VL